Vancouver Island MusicFest is one of several Comox Valley fairs and festivals to receive provincial recovery funding intended to help resurrect events around B.C. that have been sidelined by COVID-19.
MusicFest is in line to receive $213,442, which executive director Doug Cox said will provide a solid foundation after the pandemic struggles.
“It’s allowing us to start with our feet firmly on the ground again, after the last two years,” he said.
The grant program allowed applicants to seek as much as 20 per cent of an operating budget, for a maximum of $250,000. Recipients demonstrated economic and social benefits to a community, and strong local or regional support.
Cox said he anticipated something from the program, but to receive the entire amount for which he applied was a bonus.
“We knew it was a slam-dunk for at least some of the money, because, modestly speaking, we are the biggest cultural tourism destination event on north Vancouver Island, so I knew we would receive something, but I was very, very thrilled that we got the full amount.”
When Cox was forced to cancel the 2020 festival, many supporters optioned to carry over their tickets until the next event, as opposed to asking for a refund. That show of support was integral to the society remaining solvent during these past two years. But it also meant that there would not be nearly as much money coming in for the 2022 show.
“It was going to be a very tough year, but it’s looking a little better now,” Cox said. “It’s so nice to get that kind of support for the festival.”
Other Comox Valley events to receive recovery funds include the 2022 B.C. Junior Curling Championships at the CV Curling Club ($8,240), the B.C. Seafood Festival ($47,295), Comox Nautical Days Festival ($21,500), Comox Valley Art Gallery’s Return to Water: Close to Home/Far For Home five-day media festival ($14,010), Royal LePage Snow to Surf ($13,600), 2022 Courtenay Canada Day celebrations ($12,920) and the Comox Valley Exhibition ($25,000).
Before the pandemic, the seafood fest had been a staple in Comox since its inception in 2005, held annually in June at Filberg Park. Nautical Days is another cherished community event that celebrates the spirit of the community with various nautical-themed activities on the B.C. Day long weekend.
Comox Mayor Russ Arnott said the funding will enable the return of two landmark summer events.
“These events not only highlight and celebrate our region’s seafood industry, but also showcase our coastal community and the positive impact it brings to the region,” he said in a news release.
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged Comox’s ability to host events and large gatherings. In lieu of the recent spike in cases across Vancouver Island, the town will be monitoring Public Health Orders.
“The town will evaluate these events and relevant programming, and will ensure any hosted event follows all guidelines from Island Health and other associated authorities,” the news release states. “The Town of Comox encourages everyone to get vaccinated to help ensure events like this can take place safely.”